Umbilical-Cord Matrix Stem Cells and Cerebral Ischemia

I am winding down on the stem cell story for now as later in the month I will be featuring my good friends at University of Sherbrooke and their research in the area of chronic pain.

I did want to highlight yet another potential application for stem cells. For this, we send kudos to Dr. Yan Xu and his colleagues at University of Pittburgh for their findings on inflammatory response in Golbal Ischemia. Their work was recently published:

Aaron Hirko, Renee Dallasen, Sachiko Jomura, Yan Xu. Modulation of Inflammatory Responses after Global Ischemia by Transplanted Umbilical-Cord Matrix Stem Cells. Stem Cells First published online August 21, 2008; doi:doi:10.1634/stemcells.2008-0075

Secondary to Cardiac Arrest is Brain Damage do to lack of blood flow. This is marked by a delayed loss of Neurons in CA1 hippocampus region of the brain due to inflammatory response.

The story timeline of this response is good then bad with interesting twists. The delay in neuronal loss is linked to initial inflammation. It involves both reactive astrocytes (astrocytosis) and glia. Delaying the loss is, of course, good.

…But then, the reactive astrocytosis and related glial scarring cause a physical and biochemical barrier to regeneration of neurons…a bad thing. Protecting the microglia is a good thing, because they these cells serve as scavengers for clearing the cellular debris. They can also secrete a variety of cytotoxic and protective chemicals.

The wow factor in this research is that  implanted rat umbilical-cord matrix (RUCM) cells can provide partial protection against neuronal injury in rat brains. Rats treated with RUCM cells three days prior to an 8-min CA had only 25-32% neuronal loss in the hippocampal CA1 region compared to the typical 50-68% neuronal loss observed in the untreated or the vehicle-treated animals. This could be due to to the favaorable modulation of the “good-bad” inflammatory response.

The good news in the search for therapies for stroke and cardiac arrest victims is combined, stem-cell-like RUCM cells offer protection against neuronal injury after global cerebral ischemia by enhancing the survivability of the astroglia in the selectively vulnerable regions.

We are pleased that the research team used our GFAP antibody as an marker for astrotytic in their studies.

Steve Stice-The Professor Entrepreneur

Dr Steve Stice and Human Stem Cells

I am pleased and honored for the privilege of profiling Dr. Steve Stice.  He has a history of working in areas that are Biotechnology Headliners…from cloning to stem cells. Here I will be focusing on his current work with Human Stem Cells and Neural Progenitors  at ArunA Biomedical and The University of Georgia. As with all the News Behind the Neuroscience News, I will highlight how it could impact Neuroscience Research and Drug Discovery.

The Back Story

Where it Starts

Steve embodies a rare blend of entrepreneurship and scientific curiosity. He has been referred to in the press as “part professor; part entrepreneur”. This uniquely positions Steve to take his inventions from the lab directly to the marketplace by forming Biotechnology Companies. The DNA for ArunA comes from several of his earlier start-ups: Advanced Cell Technology and Cytogenesis (now part of BresaGen).

About Dr. Steve Stice

Dr. Steve Stice is CSO of Aruna Biomedical Inc and a Professor and Director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center and has a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar endowed chair.

 

Prior to joining the University of Georgia, Dr. Stice was a cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, a stem cell company.  Throughout his career he has published and lectured internationally on the topics of cloning and stem cells. 

 

In 2001, three of the human embryonic stem cell lines that Dr Stice’s lab derived were approved for federal funding by President Bush. In 2006, he was appointed by Gov. Perdue to the Post Natal Cord Blood Commission for the state of Georgia.

 

Dr. Stice founded Aruna Biomedical, Inc., and in cooperation with Millipore Inc. was first group to market a product derived from human embryonic stem cells (2007). The product is a neural stem cell used for research on neurological diseases and disorders, ranging from Parkinson’s disease to depression.

 

Contact Information:

 

sstice@arunabiomedical.com

As co-founder and CSO of Advanced Cell Technology, he has helped commercialize discovery platforms that could enable the application of stem cell technologies to the field of regenerative medicine to bring effective therapies to patients suffering from degenerative diseases like age-related macular degeneration. The company recently passed the milestone of  successfully. restoring visual function in rats through the implantation of RPE cells derived from human embryonic stem cells and in early 2008, completed pre-IND meetings with the FDA. Yes, Human Stem Cell based therapies have the potential to make the blind  see.

This bring us to ArunA. I am excited about their current and future products because their is a pent up need for them by the Neuroscience Research community which includes many of Neuromics’ Customers.

The ArunA Biomedical Story
Steve started ArunA in 2003. It actually sprung from a frustrating aspect of using Stem Cells for research. They are infinitely useful but hard to grow in cultures and differentiate into the research required cell types. Steve became acutely aware of this from his work starting in 2001 including a 5 day course he taught at NIH. Steve understood that most researchers do not want to spend the time and related frustrations associated with  this exercise. It is kind of like building a computer so you could enjoy the benefits of the web. In other words, Neuroscientists could care less about undifferentiated stem cells. At the very least, they want pure and healthy Neural Progenitors. These can then be expanded and differentiated into specific neurons. For example an ALS Researcher would be interested in making Motor Neurons; a Parkinson’s Researcher, Dopamanergic Neurons and a Pain Researcher, GABAmanergic. Nirvana for these researchers would be having pure cultures of these Neuron types at their fingertips.

Current Products

There is good news. Neuroscientists can now easily and inexpensively get human neural progenitor cells for Drug Discovery, Toxicity and Basic Research.

ENStem-A ™, Neural Progenitor Expansion Kit
hN2™, ArunA Human Neural Cell Kit 

So what was once difficult and frustrating, is now easy and convenient. Buy the kits and here’s an example of what you get.

What is Next

Knowing the needs and wants of the marketplace, ArunA’s products and capabilities excite me. Any tools that have they capabilities to bring researchers a steps closer to discovering cures for insidious Neuro-diseases need to be embraced. All of us have or will be touched by these diseases.

In my conversations with Steve, I am impressed with his clear understanding of how to evolve ArunA’s product to increase their value proposition. Available soon could be cultures developed to fit the niche needs of specific researrch areas like Parkinson’s, Pain’s and Alzheimer’s. I plan on communicating these evolutions here and at my company’s website @ www.neuromics.com.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells-The Great Debate

The use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells in Research is a lightening rod. It is catalyzing a great debate that transcends science and instead challenges us to take positions based on morality and ethics.

My considerations are humble. They do not extend to the potential of manipulating pluripotent cells to grow transplantable human tissues and organs in the lab. I am more interested in the ability for scientists to manipulate progenitors to grow pure cell populations in vitro for basic research.  These cultures are useful for helping Scientists understand the molecular biology of diseases. This is but a baby step in the direction of actually discovering therapies for insidious human diseases. I would like to have these cultures available as research tools for my customers, but what are the ethical considerations even, say, if the cells were derived from government approved cell lines.

Ted Peters

Ted Peters

In my journey of understanding, I happened upon a website that articulates  the roots of the debate and sheds light on the big questions that need to be answered by systematic theologians and public policy makers. These answers then could provide a moral and ethical framework for unleashing the promise of stem cells.

The Stem Cell Debate: Ethical Questions-About the author: Ted Peters is a professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California. He is author of GOD-The World’s Future (Fortress 2000) and Science, Theology, and Ethics (Ashgate 2003). He is editor-in-chief of Dialog, A Journal of Theology. He also serves as co-editor of Theology and Science published by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley.